Jameel is a long time photography enthusiast and a drone hobbyist when he has a break from writing.
Drones have exploded in popularity over the past five years, evolving from little more than children's toys to state-of-the-art flying devices. They have been utilized in a wide range of industries for many different jobs ranging from security to sport. One of their most useful features, however, is the way they empower photographers, allowing them to take breathtaking shots from a number of different positions otherwise inaccessible to man.
One might expect drones to be complicated to use, but in fact, the opposite is true; drones are quite easy to master, and you certainly don't need to be an expert to get started with a high-quality drone. The only complication that comes with purchasing a drone specifically for photography is in the sheer number of different models available.
That is why I have compiled this list of the top 5 drones available in 2019, for those of you who seek an edge in your photography, whether you are a first-time drone user or an expert pilot looking for the next best thing.
1. DJI Mavic Air
It's not hard to see why this is top of the list; a top-class, foldable drone able to capture a steady 4k video at 60fps, compact enough to fit inside a rucksack or a large coat pocket. With its 21 minutes of battery life and a range of 6.2 miles, it is able to stay in the air for extended periods of time allowing patient photographers to time their moment. The Mavic Air incorporates a 1/2.3"12-megapixel CMOS sensor with a f/2.8 lens and is able to capture incredibly high-resolution photos and videos.
Small and speedy, with a great combination of internal features, the Mavic Air is also equipped with the signature DJI obstacle avoidance features, making it incredibly new-user friendly.
The main reason why the Mavic Air tops this list though, is because it's simply the best drone for your money in terms of affordability vs. what it brings to the table.
2. DJI Phantom 4 Pro
Another entry from DJI on this list. The Phantom 4 is a slight upgrade to the already more than capable Phantom 3, with a stronger mainframe, new object avoidance algorithms and improved remote control which now connects to an updated app, easily usable from most smartphones.
The Phantom 4 is able to shoot 4k at 60 fps with its 1 inch, 20-megapixel sensors. The gimbal design allows for extremely steady footage even during high-speed maneuvers, negating factors such as wind when taking pictures, and the fact that it has obstacle sensors in 5 different directions makes it very newbie friendly.
The battery life is somewhat low: it is able to stay in the air only for 15-20 minutes, but with proper planning, this is more than enough time to snap some interesting pictures.
3. Yuneec Typhoon H Pro
The Yuneec Typhoon H Pro is a distinctive and powerful unit, capable of travelling at up to 43.5 miles per hour it is an advanced aerial photography and video platform.
This hexacopter offers a flight time of up to 25 minutes with a gimbal-mounted 4k camera, fully equipped with the latest in anti-vibration software. The designers of this powerful little drone have poured incredible amounts of energy into making this unit as stable as possible, and they have succeeded. The Typhoon H provides one of the most stable drone experiences.
It also comes with a sexy ground controller that features a 7-inch touchscreen display that shows live footage of the drone as it flies and comes equipped with a large selection of autonomous flight modes. All of this does not come cheap, however, and those wishing to purchase the Typhoon H had better be willing to spend a few hundred extra.
4. Parrot Bebop 2
The Parrot Bebop 2 is a medium priced drone that offers a lot for its modest cost. The Bebop 2 is practically designed for video-making and taking high-quality images. The camera utilizes a 14-megapixel fisheye lens, paired with state of the art stabilization software which effectively removes the need to include a gimbal. The chassis is created with rubber dampeners to negate the effect of air vibration during flight, resulting in a crystal clear photos and shake-free videos.
The compact Bebop 2 can reach speeds of around 37.5 miles per hour and can resist headwinds of up to almost 40 miles per hour, a feat not accomplished by many other drones of this caliber. It can also pull to a halt extremely quickly, a record-breaking complete stop in just under 4 seconds.
5. DJI Spark
The tiny Spark is the new mini-drone from DJI. Labeled as a 'selfie drone' by some it is actually a lot more than that. Complete with gestural controls and the latest intelligent flight modes it is also equipped with top tier software for both high-res image capturing and editing.
DJI is well known for their sturdy creations, and some would say the Spark is among the hardiest drones ever made by them. With short propeller arms, no legs and a camera that is hidden away in the chassis, there is not much that can damage this drone if it crashes. With a flight time of 16 minutes (24 with the additional battery pack) and top speeds of nearly 30 mph, the Spark is a useful addition to any photographer's arsenal.
The one downside to the Spark is that the 1/2.3 inch CMOS sensor is unable to shoot in 4k—12 megapixels and video in 1080p at 30 fps—which isn't necessarily the end of the world, but it is something that a lot of other portable drones offer and something the market seems to want in general. Having said that, the Spark is a great little drone that makes up for in sturdiness what it lacks in pixel quality.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Jameel Evans
Liz Westwood from UK on March 07, 2019:
I have read your article with interest as drones can get some great photographs. Which of these have you used? In the UK, we have recently had problems with drones causing disruption at airports so I think there will be tighter legislation in the future.